Gallery & Awards

California Mass Timber Building Competition

On March 3, 2020, the California Government Operations Agency (GovOps) announced four winners of the California Mass Timber Building Competition, along with two honorable mentions. All of the projects demonstrated superior design and application of mass timber for commercial or multi-family projects in California. Read the GovOps press release here.

The winning projects include:

  • California College of the Arts – Campus Unification Project – $200,000 Award
  • Skid Row Housing Trust – The Alvidrez Affordable Housing Project (formerly The Fifth) – $200,000 Award
  • Orange County Sanitation District – New Headquarters – $40,000 Award
  • Sunnydale Development Company – Community Centre at the Hub – $40,000 Award
  • Microsoft – Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus Expansion and Renovation – Honorable Mention
  • Tahoe Regional Arts Foundation – The Stages at Northstar – Honorable Mention

“Increased use of mass timber will benefit forest health and rural economic development, while reducing carbon emissions related to construction in California,” said Jennifer Cover, President and CEO of WoodWorks, which administered the competition. “The winning projects further highlight the possibilities of timber and encourage wider adoption of its use throughout the state and nationwide.”

As a construction material, mass timber is favored by designers for its strength, aesthetics, construction efficiency, reduced carbon footprint, and ability to work alongside other materials as a structural element. The grants will fund activities that include cost studies, permitting fees, and information exchange sessions with code officials.

Project Details

California College of the Arts Campus Unification Project – San Francisco

Owner: California College of the Arts
Architect: Studio Gang Architects
Structural engineer: Arup North America Ltd.
Sustainability consultant: Atelier Ten
General contractor: Hathaway Dinwiddie
Size: Four stories; 100,700 gsf
Mass timber products: Cross-laminated timber (CLT), glued-laminated timber (glulam)

Conceived as a creative ecosystem that strengthens relationships, the campus design unites the College’s programs in San Francisco through a “double ground” of art-making facilities and landscapes. At street level is a concrete and glass hub of maker spaces and yards within a flexible plan that promotes interdisciplinary interactions and is adaptable for the future. Above, a canopy of wood-structured pavilions arises out of a second “ground” offering community social spaces, additional art-making areas, and outdoor classrooms—all visually and physically connected to the spaces below. The gravity and lateral systems deploy glulam and CLT elements in layers of vertical and diagonal members. By expressing structural forces shaping each pavilion directly in the timber forms, the pavilions become an educational tool that offers insight into the design thinking and process of making. Starting with a design that prioritizes the employment of passive strategies, the project has aggressively pursued carbon neutrality, with preparations for a future microgrid for continual sources of clean energy.

The Alvidrez– Los Angeles

Owners: St. Mark’s Fifth Street Partners, L.P. and Crescent Fifth Street Partners Limited Partnership
Project team lead: Skid Row Housing Trust
Architect: Michael Maltzan Architecture
Structural engineer: John A. Martin & Associates, Inc.
Size: 12 stories of mass timber over two stories of reinforced concrete
Mass timber products: Nail-laminated timber (NLT), glulam, plywood

A highly visible project at the edge of the Skid Row neighborhood in Los Angeles, The Alvidrez is intended to be a model for future mass timber multi-unit residential housing construction.

The often-discussed solution to the scarcity of buildable lots in Los Angeles is to densify and build taller; however, the building code and economics of building up nearly always preclude that possibility for low-income housing projects. These developments are typically variations of the 5-over-1 formula, which includes five levels of cost-effective Type V wood-frame construction (the maximum allowed for residential buildings) over a concrete podium. To build taller than six stories, a design team would typically switch to the next-least-expensive Type I or II building method, which is usually concrete. That approach tends to be a lot more expensive, and only justifiable for a much larger or more highly-profitable project. The team behind The Alvidrez believes that mass timber can fill the gap between those options, allowing taller affordable projects that make a real dent homelessness levels in Los Angeles.

Orange County Sanitation District Headquarters – Fountain Valley

Architect and structural engineer: HDR
Timber engineering consultant: Fast + Epp
Size: Three stories, 109,000 square feet
Mass timber products: CLT, glulam

The new headquarters for the Orange County Sanitation District is a sizeable high-profile project in Southern California. The use of mass timber, together with high sustainability and resiliency goals, provide an important, large scale replicable model. The building is a hybrid steel and timber design, with steel lateral systems helping to ensure success of approvals while providing a ready model for replicability. High quality materials are used on the exterior, consisting of terra-cotta cladding and shading systems, with metal cladding and a high-performance, two-way structural glazed curtain wall.

Sunnydale Community Centre at the Hub – San Francisco

Owner: Sunnydale Development Company, LLC, a partnership between Mercy Housing California and Related California
Architect: Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects
Structural engineer: KPFF Consulting Engineers
Fire and life safety consultant: Holmes Fire
General Contractor: Swinerton
Size: 31,000-sf commercial building and 12,000-sf gymnasium
Mass timber products: CLT, glulam

The Community Center at the Hub is part of the Sunnydale HOPE SF Neighborhood Plan to transform four of San Francisco’s most distressed public housing sites into vibrant, thriving communities. The Hub is located at the center of the new neighborhood and will provide residents and visitors with youth and family programs, recreational amenities, and neighborhood-serving retail. The team chose glulam and CLT for reasons that include biophilia, sustainability, structural integrity, and a desire to create a warm and inviting environment for the community. The project includes a simple structural framing scheme that takes full advantage of mass timber’s potential for construction speed and reduced waste while maintaining the design versatility and beauty of exposed wood structure. Mass timber brace frames are showcased through framed glazed openings at key places in the design. These brace frames will create additional space through the exterior skin for access to daylighting and views. Where large, flexible and open areas are required in the programming, the beams and girders will be highly visible in demonstrating the structural spans. As the architect noted, this project has the opportunity to impact the entire neighborhood by showcasing mass timber construction, environmental responsibility, and beautiful architecture in a previously distressed, low- and moderate-income community.

Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus Expansion and Renovation

Tenant: Microsoft Corporation
Property owner: Baccarat Shoreline, LLC
Architect: WRNS Studio
Structural engineer: Holmes Structures
Fire and life safety consultant: Holmes Fire
Mass Timber Supplier and Fabricator: Structurlam
Builder: Rudolph and Sletten
Size: Two-story office buildings plus renovations; 640,000 sf
Mass timber products: CLT, glulam

The Stages at Northstar – North Lake Tahoe, California

Owner: Tahoe Regional Arts Foundation
Architect: Williams + Paddon Architects
Structural engineer: Holmes Structures
Civil engineer: Auerbach Engineering Corp.
Size: 62,000 sf
Mass timber products: CLT, glulam

The Stages at Northstar is a freeform mass timber building located in a forested landscape in North Lake Tahoe, California. Intended to serve as draw for performing arts, this 22-acre complex is designed to support indoor and outdoor performances, exhibits, and festivals, and provide opportunities for youth educational drama programs. It will include two indoor theaters, an outdoor amphitheater, a multi-use space, and events courtyard. The use of mass timber for the primary structural system offers a number of benefits, including reduced structural mass, which also helps to reduce foundation and lateral load-resisting system requirements; design flexibility and the ability to be molded into complex curves; and sustainability. In addition to wood’s ability to sequester carbon, the use of exposed wood structure provides warmth and reduces the need for applied finishes.